Do you have Jack’s back?
We recently reached out to all the 2020 Superhero Team Captains and asked them to tell us their WHY! Why do they support GiGi’s? Why do they set up a team each year? Why is GiGi’s and the programming offered so important to them? The story below may belong to Jack’s family but we’ve heard many similar stories from other families over the years! 9 years to be exact. GiGi’s Playhouse Quad Cities will celebrate its 9th year on October 1, 2020, just a few days before the Superhero Run/Walk.
Why do we support Gigi’s Playhouse and participate in programming?
It’s a bit of a long story, but in 2017, we had volunteered to help out with the Superhero Race through our employer. Unfortunately, we had to cancel because our son, Jack, decided to make his appearance a bit earlier than we had planned. Jack had been diagnosed with likely having Down Syndrome well before his birth and it was confirmed when he was born.
While we didn’t know anything about the Playhouse other than the Superhero Race, everyone continued to refer us there so we finally reached out. Our first meeting was with a couple of families who had toddlers with Down Syndrome. We were overwhelmed, still scared, and still processing, but these families made us feel like we had hit the jackpot. We were now a part of a larger family and we had a place to ask hard questions, to be ourselves, and to learn how to be better parents and better advocates for Jack and he had a place to learn, meet friends, and participate in programming.
We initially started attending LMNOP, a program offered once a month for children 0-3. The programming was focused on language, music, and socialization. He loved it. He loved having friends to play with and definitely made himself at home while at the playhouse. We loved it. We loved socializing with the other parents, asking questions of each other, and loved watching all of the kids grow.
As he grew, we added individual speech therapy sessions. His language skills are definitely behind in development, so the more time we can get him to focus on this skill, the better. However, therapy is expensive and not covered by our insurance. Having the opportunity for free speech therapy through the playhouse has been tremendous. He has learned to communicate with some sign language and communicates through imitating behaviors and sounds. We continue to attend therapy weekly at Gigi’s and see him continue to grow with each passing week.
He has also started participating in Leaps & Bounds, a program offered for 3-5-year-olds. The formatting of the program was a bit different due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but we received weekly kits focusing on learning numbers, colors, and letters in preparation for him to attend school and were able to meet with other families virtually to discuss how things were going.
We love the opportunities the Playhouse has brought to our family. We love the friends we have made, we love to watch all of our kids grow and learn, and we love having a place to go for resources. We love that Gigi’s Playhouse offers programs for ALL ages of people with Down Syndrome and their families and works to build awareness and acceptance within the community.
Why do we form a team for the superhero race?
We are so grateful that the programming is also offered free of charge to everyone. We know how hard it is to operate solely on donations and grants. This is why we ask our family, friends, and co-workers to join us in supporting the mission of the Playhouse and show they “have Jack’s back” by joining Jack’s Pack.
Learn more about supporting Jack’s Pack and all the other teams/families that have similar stories by visiting: